According to documents recently filed with the Maine Ethics Commission by the “Hydro-Quebec Maine Partnership” committee, which was set up by the state corporation, the sums were mainly spent on professional service fees. as well as the remuneration of staff and consultants.
Since last year, 8.4 million CAN have been allocated by Hydro-Quebec south of the border to boost the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC). In November 2020, the energy corridor was to be the subject of a popular consultation, but the referendum process of the opponents had been declared unconstitutional by the highest court in the American state before the poll was held.
In total, more than CAN 10 million had been injected into this political action committee.
“We are continuing our information campaign,” explained a spokesperson for the crown corporation, Lynn St-Laurent, in a telephone interview. We can see that it has a positive impact. Nothing prevents us from carrying out this campaign. It's very transparent. "
The first referendum attempt revolved around the certificate granted to the project by the Maine community services commission. This time around, opponents want to force a popular consultation that would force high-voltage power lines - like the NECEC - to gain the support of two-thirds of the state legislature to move forward. .
Hydro-Quebec relies heavily on NECEC to deliver 9.45 terawatt-hours of hydroelectricity per year for 20 years to Massachusetts under a contract whose revenues are estimated at around US $ 10 billion. South of the border, the route must cross the territory of Maine.
The “Clean Energy Matters” committee, in which we find the American partner of the state-owned company, for its part spent 5.6 million while a committee supported by companies in the oil and gas sector injected more than 2 million euros. ,5 millions.
Hydro-Québec could potentially lose the right to continue spending in this way in Maine. Raising fears of foreign interference when a state-framed vote is to be held, Republican Senator Richard Bennett recently introduced a bill that would bar an entity based outside the United States from acting as Hydro-Québec is currently doing.
In American territory, the route is estimated at 233 kilometers and work has already started. The presidential permit, the latest in a series of permits to be obtained, was granted last January. In Quebec, the Appalaches-Maine interconnection must extend over 103 kilometers from the Appalaches substation to the border. Last December, the Office of Public Hearings on the Environment (BAPE) issued a favorable opinion on the route.
"This government authorization is a major step in the realization of the project and in the positioning of Quebec as the green battery of North-East America", argued the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Jonatan Julien, in a press release.
The Appalaches-Maine corridor is still awaiting approval from the Canada Energy Regulator, whose decision is expected before the end of the spring. There should be more than 275 workers on the site in Quebec, a figure that should reach 400 during peak construction periods.
Along with opponents from Maine, the energy corridor is also contested by five indigenous communities in Quebec and the Innu Nation of Labrador, who have asked the Régie de l'énergie to block the project. With an indigenous community in Maine, they also made the same request to the Democratic administration of President Joe Biden.
They blame the state corporation for wanting to rake in profits with its project without having offered compensation for the use of their ancestral lands for decades to produce hydroelectricity.